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Dear Mr. President

March 16, 2016

The hearing is April 4, 2016

The journey has felt interminable (the counter at the top of the site has grown to an overwhelming number), but we have an important development occurring, as outlined in the press release below. Our appreciation for the efforts of the legal team at Yale Law School cannot be overstated.

Thank you to the Connecticut Judiciary Committee for being willing to listen. Saddened to see ICE's denial. Testimony, much like parenting, is best done in person.

And, of course, although we have not met, we are with Mrs. Milardo and her family in solidarity. -AB


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9:00 AM EST, March 16, 2016

Avinash Samarth
Aaron Korthuis


Immigration Officials Deny Requests to Return to Testify; Milardo, Giammarco File Suit to Comply with State Legislative Subpoenas

NEW HAVEN, CT: Today, Paula Milardo and Arnold Giammarco, two deported Connecticut residents recently subpoenaed by the Connecticut Judiciary Committee to testify at a hearing on April 4, will file suit in U.S. District Court seeking to compel federal immigration officials to allow them to return to testify. Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) denied administrative applications by Mr. Giammarco and Mrs. Milardo, who will request that the federal court issue a writ habeas corpus ad testificandum.

Mrs. Milardo, 66, a grandmother of six, is married to a disabled Vietnam veteran, and Mr. Giammarco, 60, is a veteran of the U.S. Army and Connecticut National Guard. Both lived lawfully in the state for fifty years before their deportation based on non-violent criminal offenses.

“ICE snubbed Connecticut last week, refusing to let Mrs. Milardo and Mr. Giammarco comply with subpoenas issued by Rep. William Tong and Sen. Eric Coleman, Co-Chairs of the Judiciary Committee,” said Andie Levien, a law student intern in the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. “A federal agency should not deprive the Connecticut General Assembly of the testimony it deems necessary to hear.”

“For centuries, courts have ordered recalcitrant custodians to produce witnesses for legislative hearings, respecting the sovereignty and constitutional duties of legislatures,” said Avinash Samarth, a law student intern in the clinic. “Banishing people and making the world their prison does not strip courts and legislators of this power.”

Paula Milardo moved legally to the United States from Italy with her parents in 1961, when she was 11 years old. She grew up in Middletown, Connecticut, and in 1970, she married Anthony Milardo, a disabled U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam. In Middletown, the Milardos raised three children, and are now grandparents to six grandchildren. She was a legal permanent resident for nearly 50 years.

In 2010, Mrs. Milardo pled guilty to larceny in the first degree. The offense, her first and only, stemmed from a gambling addiction she developed while her husband battled stage III colon cancer. Mrs. Milardo apologized and accepted responsibility for her actions. She paid back the money she stole, completed treatment for her gambling addiction, and served her prison sentence. After completing her sentence, however, the federal government punished her a second time: it arrested, detained, and deported her to Italy. Since 2011, Mrs. Milardo has lived in exile.

Arnold Giammarco moved legally to the United States from Italy with his parents in 1960, when he was 4 years old, and grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. Mr. Giammarco enlisted in the U.S. Army as a teenager, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, an Italian immigrant who fought for the United States in World War I, later joined the Connecticut Army National Guard. After Mr. Giammarco’s first marriage ended, he fell into a period of drug addiction and was convicted of a number of low-level larceny and drug possession offenses. In the 2000s, Mr. Giammarco overcame his addiction, remarried, had a daughter, and worked to support his family. The Connecticut State’s Attorneys who prosecuted Mr. Giammarco during his period of addiction have reviewed the cases and concluded that they do not oppose a full pardon for him.

Nevertheless, in 2011, federal immigration agents arrested Mr. Giammarco at his home, placed him in removal proceedings, detained him for 18 months without bond, and deported him to Italy in 2012. He had been a legal permanent resident for 52 years. In 2013, Mr. Giammarco filed a federal lawsuit to compel the government to adjudicate his 1982 citizenship application, which has languished for decades; that lawsuit is still pending. The federal government continues to defend its actions and justify Mr. Giammarco’s banishment.

Mrs. Milardo and Mr. Giammarco are represented by law students and their supervising attorneys in the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy, Veterans Legal Services, and Criminal Justice Clinics, all a part of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School.


October 10, 2013

I'm not usually prone to quoting the Bible, but I found this one in regards to hope that I thought was fitting. 

"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."
Proverbs 13:12

Then, on the flip side of that coin, I found this Nietzsche quote. Although dark, this one may actually better summarize the year and a half Arnold spent incarcerated in Massachusetts, and the two and a half years that he has lived away from his daughter and wife; his mother and father; his siblings, niece and nephews. His time in exile, separated from everything he has ever known and cared about.

Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of man.
Friedrich Nietzsche

For so long Arnold's heart, and Sharon's heart, has grown sicker and sicker, and their one desire -- such a simple desire really -- has not been realized. To add insult to that injury, people (usually strangers) have regularly remarked that they don't deserve that life together. It's usually in the form of online commentary and it starts with a "Sorry, but". Whatever follows the "but" invariably demonstrates that the commentator is anything but sorry.

A lot of Facebook friends and family have been wonderfully supportive, signed the petition, and shared the link. We are tremendously grateful for them. And, then, there are a lot of others that just don't care. I understand it's human nature - I imagine they would suddenly care a great deal if this happened to someone in their family, someone that they loved and cared about. There are a whole lot of causes out there, we can't get all worked up about all of them.

Then there are the terrible, mean-spirited, hateful hypocrites. There are people I know for a fact have committed drug crimes of their own, and simply benefited from not getting caught. I don't know how they don't gag on their own hypocrisy when they say this US resident of 53 years has lost his right to be here for the mistakes he has made, and paid his debt for. 

A lot of people assume he did something much, much worse than we are telling them, so they support his deportation on the grounds that there must be a really good reason. They've had it so engrained in their brain that Deportation = Good for America that they have to believe it's for the best.

And, of course, there are plenty of less subtle racists who have wondered out loud to me why they're deporting Arnold, an Italian, when we still have all these Mexicans. Yes, really. And, yes, they are serious.


Back to Hope. It's been almost a year that Arnold's been in Italy. Sharon is trying to figure out the best option for them to all be back together again. England perhaps? At least she can speak the language.

Then, something sort of incredible happened. A team of students at Yale Law School has decided to take on Arnold's case. They are going to try and get him home.

When we first heard this news, we tried to remain cautiously optimistic and not get our hopes up, but... we've gone and gotten ahead of ourselves. Hope is funny like that, once it takes hold it's not really in the carrier's ability to contain it. Hope can burn us again and again, but we'll fall again, because the alternative is just too bleak. I don't want to live in Nietzsche's world.

Sharon has re-opened the petition, tweaked a little bit. Rather than "stop the deportation", we're now looking to "bring him home". If you haven't already, please go over to change.org and sign it.

The Petition

This family deserves this. They just want to be together, on the same continent with the rest of their family. That's it.



(Previous Updates)


  Italy: April 2013 (Reunited after two years fighting Arnold's deportation - A year and a half locked up.)